I can remember a time in my childhood when Mum was sick enough to need to rest in bed during the day.
I remember my Dad looking after us and saying “You need to stay out of our bedroom – Mummy is sick and she needs to sleep. Come and play.”
And I remember how my little heart felt – that it was unfair that we had to stay away from Mum; that she belonged to us and being unable to access her felt wrong.
Of course, as we grew older, we grew in compassion and saw that she had needs of her own.
Now I’m a Mum myself and I can see the other side of the equation.
Yesterday, for Mother’s Day, I rode my bike over to our church early and had breakfast and coffee by myself from the local cafe.
As I was getting ready to leave, I told the kids that Daddy would be bringing them to church and I would meet them there.
My 3 year old said – in the sweetest, most sorrowful voice imaginable – “But Mummy… I just… love you de most in de whole world.”
I could feel what his little heart was feeling. Why does Mummy have to go away from us? Why can’t I have access to her constantly?
Sometimes the “feeling needed” part of being a Mum is so intense.
I can feel it when my daughter follows me into the bathroom. When the baby wriggles to get out of my arms, and then immediately stretches his hands up to me, wanting to be picked up again. When my daughter comes and sits in the kitchen and says, “I just want to do what you’re doing Mummy.”
Whether these moments make me swoon or grind my teeth usually depends on where my head is at. If I’m feeling well organised and refreshed, I see the joy in being needed. But if I’m feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, I just want some space.
It’s actually good to be needed. This means that my kids and I have developed a healthy attachment. But I can’t pour out of an empty vessel.
So I will continue to pour myself out for my kids, and my husband and whoever the Lord chooses. But I will also continue to fill my cup.
First, by spending time with the Lord. And then by spending time on my own.